Issue: IN NEW JERSEY, WHETHER IT IS ERROR TO REFUSE TO DISMISS A WRONGFUL DEATH COMPLAINT BARRED BY THE TWO-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.
|Area of Law:||Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence|
|Keywords:||Wrongful death action; Statute of limitations|
|Cited Cases:||381 N.E.2d 1164; 101 N.J. 538; 320 N.J. Super. 34; 598 F.2d 816; 898 F. Supp. 1100; 62 N.J. 111; 662 So. 2d 706; 423 S.E.2d 547; 111 N.J. 56; 430 A.2d 681; 168 N.J. Super. 543|
New Jersey law is well-settled that a wrongful death action is never subject to the discovery principle, under which the statute of limitations is said to accrue only upon discovery of the cause of action. TA s "Presslaff v. Robins, 168 N.J. Super. 543 (App. Div. " c 1 l "Presslaff v. Robins, 168 N.J. Super. 543 (App. Div. 1979)"Presslaff v. Robins, 168 N.J. Super. 543 (App. Div. 1979). Although the discovery principle is theoretically available regarding a two-year “accrual” type of limitations period, id. at 547, when the plaintiff files a single action with survivorship and wrongful death counts, the Appellate Division has declined to apply the discovery doctrine, id. at 548. Refusing to “strain on policy grounds . . . the statutory language to achieve a result obviously not intended by the Legislature,” id. at 547, and deferring to the Legislature to rectify the alleged anomaly, id. at 547-48, the Presslaff court held that a plaintiff’s cause of action for wrongful death is absolutely barred by application of the two-year statute of limitations, id. at 548.
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years, and the courts have not seen fit to draw a parallel to criminal murder prosecutions to change that statute. The two-year wrongful death statute of limitations is not subject to such equitable principles as estoppel or tolling. TA s "Presslaff v. Robins, 168 N.J. […]